Collegial vs. collegiate

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Collegial and collegiate both mean of or relating to college, and they are interchangeable in this sense, though collegiate is far more common. Collegial is closely related to the noun colleague, though, so it has a couple of senses it doesn’t share with collegiate—namely, (1) of or relating to colleagues, and (2) characterized by camaraderie or cooperation. In 21st-century English, collegial is much more often used in these senses than in the one it shares with collegiate. Yet for some reason, several dictionaries (Oxford, for one) don’t acknowledge these senses of collegial, and some (Cambridge, Macmillan, and others) inexplicably don’t even list collegial.


Why some English reference sources don’t acknowledge the existence of collegial and its modern senses is a mystery to us, as it’s an old word and actually quite common. Examples such as these, from books and newswriting, are easy to find:

This is the chief value of all collegial intercourse in seminar and society meetings. [Popular Science (1910)]

Local policemen along the way did not wave lanterns, but they cooperated, presumably out of acollegial feeling for the hardworking state policeman. [Christian Science Monitor (1953)]

[B]eing collegial and working as part of a team does not mean that team members cannot express themselves. [Philosophies of Reference Service, Celia H. Mabry (1997)]

One way is to have fewer lone-wolf traders with trading autonomy and create a more collegial environment where ideas are shared. [Wall Street Journal (2012)]

For good measure, here are a few examples of both collegial and the more narrowly defined collegiate used to mean of or relating to college:

[H]e describes himself as a mechanic ” who never received the advantages of acollegial or academic education.” [Antique Furniture (1915)]

Ohio State, the once -beaten Big Ten champion, laid a bold claim today to the national collegiatefootball title for 1957. [Nashua Telegraph (1957)]

Famous for its long-term planning, its technical skills and its collegial management style, Shell also once served as a model of the successful multinational. [The Economist (2004)]

But that genteel Southern collegiate pedigree would hardly suit Liz Lemon, her “30 Rock” alter ego. [Washington Post (2012)]

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